Hannah England, a true legend of the track and field world (some would say a national treasure), has had a long and illustrious career, which started during her time at the University of Birmingham with a BUCS 1500m indoor title and holder of the BUCS 1500m indoor record for 10 years (only to be broken by fellow UoB alumna Sarah McDonald). It continued to include four British titles, two NCAA titles, 4th in the 2013 World Championships (Moscow), two Commonwealth Games, and two European Games.
Hannah’s career saw her win a magnificent silver medal in the 1500m at Daegu at the 2011 World Championships as well as becoming an Olympian, competing for Team GB at London 2012. It was never just what Hannah did on the track (or on the cross country, having made an appearance at European Cross Country Championships whilst at UoB) that inspired athletes of all ages, it was the way in which she did it, with true professionalism, integrity, friendship, openness, kindness and modesty.
However, it is not limited to the track where Hannah has used her influence to help the progress of sport in this country.
Hannah was elected as the first chair of the athlete’s commission for her sport in 2018, a role elected by her fellow athletes. The same year also saw Hannah being elected as a British Gymnastics’ Athlete Ambassador. Alongside these roles, Hannah (alongside Dean Miller, former training partner, European bronze medallist, Paralympian and UoB alum) founded and continues to coach a non-profit Athletics Academy as well as acting as a consultant for the IOC, namely over the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and recently Hannah has come back to where it all started, and joined UoB Sport & Fitness as Sport Scholarship Officer within the Performance Centre.
A sign of an athlete’s impact when they hang up their spikes is not only what they achieved within their sport, but the impact they have had outside of their sporting achievements. As Hannah leaves her sport in competing terms, she has already inspired and left a legacy (particularly on the field of Birmingham) but is continuing to build a more inclusive, fairer future for the sport. It is for this reason that it is so difficult to summarise Hannah’s footprint not only on athletics, but on the University of Birmingham, Birmingham as a city and fundamentally on sport, both here in the UK and globally.
By: Ollie Armstrong